BOYS' FISHING TRIP TO ROYAL WOLF LODGE
Denali National Park
Got up around 7:30. Got kids up, then Talbert and I went just down to Grab n Go for lunches. That is a GREAT deal! $13 gets you: small blue soft cooler, sandwich, your choice of 3 snacks (CheezeIts, Gardettos, chips, cookies etc), piece of fruit, and a frozen bottle of water. ABSOLUTELY recommend!
Got myself some coffee and pastries for kids.
Returned to hotel (cabins), got everyone loaded into Tahoe, and headed to park.
Here’s where I want to explain, as best I can, how the bus system works, which I kinda had bad info on.
First thing we did wrong: drove past the Wilderness Access Center and went straight to the Visitor Center. Don’t do that. The tickets are at the WAC. Went back there.
I had been told the shuttles run every 15 minutes. No. When you get in, you have to choose your destination AND the departure time. So, for example, the next Eielson bus was leaving at 12:30. It was 9:45. We had to choose the 10:15 bus to Wonder Lake because we really just wanted the shuttle tour. It was explained that we really needed to go as far as we wanted THEN come back at our leisure on another shuttle if needed (however the Wonder Lake bus is 11 hours and there is no other shuttle behind it).
We had an amazing number of wildlife sightings: a moose cow walked right behind our bus, we saw bears (best sighting was the mama bear and her 2 cubs chasing a squirrel and trying to dig it out), lots of caribou, an eagle, ground squirrels (I am re-naming them tundra dogs), and Dahl sheep. No wolves.
At Eielson we needed to decide who was going on to Wonder and who wanted to head back. At this stop we were already 4 hours in. After MUCH back and forth and discussion, it was decided that my parents would go on to Wonder Lake (my dad REALLY wanted to see Denali which had been shrouded in clouds all day), Talbert and boys would get on next available bus back, and Eleanor and I would hang around Eielson and hike awhile.
My sweet girlie and I hiked a pretty fer piece and had a private photo session with her iPhone and the self-timer. This is what I wanted my vacation to be: moments with my family. It was best part of my day.
Got on return bus which seemed to take FOREVER. Talbert picked us up with boys and we came straight here to The Bake for dinner. Turner got Yak quesadillas, which is almost oxymoronic.
They’ve been super patient, playing pool in next room while I write. Waiting for my parents to call so we can pick them up. I am so ready for bed!
Getting up early to hit the road. Talbert is nervous about timing and wants to err on the side of caution.
Got rental Tahoe from Enterprise, which is literally across the street from the Lakeshore. Picked up my dad, husband, and sons at the Branham hanger at 10:30. After going to FedEx to ship all their fishing clothes and gear home, we went back to Lakeshore for lunch and to further lighten our suitcase load (the hotel will stow some bags until Sunday for us). 7 people in the Tahoe doesn’t leave much room for bags!
Before we left Anchorage, we stopped at the Ulu Factory Store. Bought what we needed for gifts.
On road at 2 pm. I convinced my Dad to stop in Eklutna. He hates stopping.
Arrived the Grande Denali Hotel at about 6:45. Beautiful!!!! When we planned this trip, I think we got the last two rooms left in Denali- and that was 7 months ago. If you plan on coming here RESERVE EARLY. I remember contacting at least 7 properties before this one. We ended up with 2 cabins, which is SUPER amazing. My parents are in one, and we are in second one. The original plan was that Eleanor would sleep on the fold-out sofa/futon in my parents’ cabin, but the kids want to stay together, so she’s opting for the floor (making a pallet using other cabin’s extra bedding).
Dad and Talbert went to “town” to buy libations. I’m up in the lodge, enjoying a glass of wine and a glorious view. They are all coming up in just a few minutes for dinner.
Lakefront Anchorage Hotel
I love it! Super close to airport. Shares lake with airport. Last evening Eleanor and I sat on the back deck and watched sea planes land and take off.
Not a chain. Local feel the moment you step into lobby. If you hate taxidermy, this is not the place for you!
My one complaint is that the bathroom door is a “barn door” and doesn’t close all the way (VERY small gap but still a gap) or lock. I find that so odd!
I think we are ready! Bags packed and sandwiches for flight made. Looking forward to 2 weeks off.
Tuesday: 40 hours until take-off
Bags got picked up from UPS a couple of hours ago. Two “standard” bags. Using Luggage Forward, they should be waiting in our staterooms on Sunday.
My daughter’s best friend is house- and pet-sitting for us. I need to make her a To Do list.